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Emad Barsoum writes: One Place One People

Our country is proud to be the home of diversity, inclusion, equality, tolerance, acceptance, and much greater social and human values. But are these idealistic attributes real or virtual? Are they just slogans, or do they exist in reality?

The premise this time is inversed. We will try to find out if some people who arrive in their new country are adapting to the place or if they are thriving to maintain their social behavior, regardless of laws, customs, and principles. But it is important here to point out that there is a difference between social behavior and personal or ideological ones that does not contradict or intercept the social, cultural, and public order. Whereas the latter is strictly representing the freedom of man.

The proposition, as mentioned earlier, is developed after many incidents that we face every day. Still, no one is willing to address it, and when we stay quiet about wrongdoings, those who commit it will believe that either they are right about it or that no one cares, which will, in turn, drive those to expand in their wrongdoings.

The story happened while I was driving away from the drive thru of one of the fast-food outlets in a strip plaza, when I spotted a minivan in the parking area surrounded by litter, and still the four passengers in the van throwing trash out of the windows. I approached them with frustration and anger but tactfully asked them why they were throwing their trash out of the van windows on the ground? The four young men aged between eighteen and twenty stared nonsensically at me. After a few seconds of silence, one of them asked me; Are you government? Despite the meaningless question, I understood that he has meant if I were a law enforcement officer. 

I responded, " Do I have to be a law enforcement personnel to keep my city clean or protest your unacceptable behavior? None of them uttered a word, but I could not help but firmly lecture them about how to respect and appreciate the place that we and them now call home, especially after I learned that they were originally from a region suffering from instability and armed conflicts.

One of them disrespectfully said to me, " You are an immigrant yourself!" Furiously I replied yes, everyone is an immigrant. Still, we arrived to this land at different times, however what unite us all is the respect and appreciation to this land, the land that provides life, security and prosperity to all, the land that is made great as we see it now by many people who came a long time ago and are still coming, the only difference is that they believe in it as their chosen home.

In their eyes, I saw no sense of shame or regret for their actions but carelessness to what I expressed. I drove away with a lot of resentment without adding a word.

Sadly, I have witnessed similar behaviors from different age groups on several occasions, of people throwing away their coffee cups from car windows, doing other violations of civilization or expressing ill manners. Even we have started observing such attitudes on higher levels where officials proved to be incompetent in their duties, yet they are still in their positions; as I stated before that, they have carried and adopted the same customs and behavior from nondemocratic or totalitarian regimes that they detested and searched for a place like ours to make it home.

I realized that such kind of behavior can only be reformed by a collective effort from the schools, community, family, or religious institutes. However, above all by the government, before one day, we would wake up and find out that Gresham’s law of currency is applied socially, where the bad “ethics” will drive out the good ones from being circulated.